Every few weeks I drop in to ABC News Breakfast to chat about what’s happening in the food world. This time it was to chat about fermented foods. Have a look at the clip and see my little Q&A below.
What exactly is fermentation?
The chemical alteration of a substance by bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms, often creating bubbles and heat. Many common foods are fermented: yoghurt, bread, wine and beer are all fermented, as is sauerkraut and kimchi so fermentation is certainly nothing new or strange, however there’s certainly been a resurgence in popularity and interest recently.
What might I not know is fermented?
Chocolate, some tea, some coffee and vanilla are all fermented. For example, cocoa beans are fermented in sweatboxes, reducing tannins and giving chocolate its flavour. Dark teas such as pu-erh are fermented mostly by letting the tea leaves rest in the open air to naturally ferment.
Why is it a trend?
I think it’s part of a questioning of industrial food production and also a rethinking of the obsession with ‘cleanliness’ and germ-free living that gathered steam in the second half of the 20th century. Many people also turn to fermented foods for their health benefits.
Is it really good for you?
Science does tell us that we need a large variety and number of good bacteria in our guts to stay healthy. We don’t have trouble with the notion of probiotic capsules and the notion that yoghurt is good. Where it gets a little trickier is in terms of dosage or predictable effects.
What’s that thing you brought in?
It’s a kombucha scoby, or a ‘symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast’. Yes, it does look gross but it does a good job!
Where can I find out more?
I’m working with the lovely Sharon Flynn from The Fermentary and will soon be sharing her video recipes. Stay tuned!